“My ambition?” said Patty. “Why, I never thought of it before, but I don’t believe I have any. I feel rather ashamed, for I suppose every properly equipped young woman ought to have at least one ambition, and I don’t seem to have a shadow of one. Really great ones, I mean. Of course, I can sing a little; not much, but it seems to be enough for me. And I can play a little on the piano and on the banjo, and I suppose it’s shocking; but really I don’t care to play any better than I do. I can’t paint, and I can’t write stories, but I don’t want to do either.”
“You can keep house,” said Marian.
Patty’s eyes lighted up.
“Yes,” she said; “isn’t it ridiculous? But I do really believe that’s my ambition. To keep house just perfectly, you know, and have everything go not only smoothly but happily.”
“You ought to have been a chatelaine of the fourteenth century,” said Nan.
“Yes,” said Patty eagerly; “that’s just my ambition. What a pity it’s looking backward instead of forward. But I would love to live in a great stone castle, all my own, with a moat and drawbridge and outriders, and go around in a damask gown with a pointed bodice and big puffy sleeves and a ruff and a little cap with pearls on it, and a bunch of keys jingling at my side.”
“They usually carry the keys in a basket,” observed Marian; “and you forgot to mention the falcon on your wrist.”
“So I did,” said Patty, “but I think the falcon would be a regular nuisance while I was housekeeping, so I’d put him in the basket, and set it up on the mantelpiece, and keep my keys jingling from my belt.”
“Well, it seems,” said Nan, “that Patty has more hopes of realising her ambition than either of us.”
“Speak for yourself,” said Marian.
“I think I have,” said Patty. “I have all the keys I want, and I’m quite sure papa would buy me a falcon if I asked him to.”
AN AFTERNOON DRIVE
The next Saturday Mr. Fairfield proposed that they all go for a drive to Allaire.
“What’s Allaire?” said Patty.
“It’s a deserted village,” replied her father. “The houses are empty, the old mill is silent, the streets are overgrown; in fact, it’s nothing but a picturesque ruin of a once busy hamlet.”
“They say it’s a lovely drive,” said Nan. “I’ve always wanted to go there.”
“The boys will be down by noon,” said Mr. Elliott, “and we can get off soon after luncheon. Do you suppose, Fred, we can get conveyances enough for our large and flourishing family?”
“We can try,” said Mr. Fairfield. “I’ll go over to the stables now and see what I can secure.”
On his return he found that Hepworth, Kenneth, and Frank had arrived.
“Well, Saturday’s children,” he said, “I’m glad to see you. I always know it’s the last day of the week when this illustrious trio bursts upon my vision.”